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Hammond ultrafast broadband announcement 'utterly absurd' says Cable.co.uk

  • In tomorrow's autumn statement the government will pledge of £400m to begin rollout of fibre-to-the-property (FTTP) ultrafast network delivering speeds of 1000Mbps and beyond
  • Meanwhile millions of homes in the UK still lack basic, adequate broadband provision
  • Cable.co.uk strongly believes that all money must go to ensure every home UK can get superfast before bringing speeds for which there is no useful purpose to the few
  • Commenting on the data, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms expert at broadband comparison site Cable.co.uk, said: "It is utterly absurd that this funding should provide to a minority speeds for which there is no known or useful purpose

Tuesday 22 November 2016: The Treasury has this morning announced a proposed £400m fund to bring so-called 'ultrafast' broadband to homes in the UK.

This new infrastucture will consist of 'fibre-to-the-property' or FTTP connections and can reach 1000Mbps and beyond. The vast majority of existing infrastructure in the UK is 'fibre-to-the-cabinet' or FTTC, but this technology is limiting when it comes to providing households with extreme speeds, thanks to the 'last mile' of each connection arriving via a copper phone line.

Philip Hammond is claiming that the cash handout – which is expected to be matched by private finance – will reach two million UK homes. But will it be the two million homes that actually need it? And does anyone actually need 1000Mbps?

Commenting on Ofcom's findings, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms expert at broadband comparison site Cable.co.uk, said:

"There still remains millions of households in the UK for whom adequate broadband is a daily struggle. The DCMS and Openreach are already pushing hard to reduce this number substantially through it's Broadband Delivery UK programme (BDUK) which aims to, and indeed is on target to achieve 95% of homes in the UK receiving at least 24Mbps by next year.

"While it is commendable that the Treasury considers broadband provision in the UK worthy of additional government funding, it is utterly absurd that this funding should provide to a minority speeds for which there is no known or useful purpose while so many others struggle for anything approaching basic adequacy.

"It may be that some of those areas trageted for 'ultrafast' are indeed those with inadequate basic provision, but realistically it is far more likely it will be brought to areas where there is an economic incentive for those providing the service. Rural locations especially do not fit this criteria because the uptake among residents, even for existing superfast speeds of 24Mbps or more, tends to be very low.

"And let us not forget, there is currently no known or useful purpose for ultrafast broadband. Touting that you 'Can download a series of Game of Thrones in seconds' is fatuous nonsense. You can already watch it in seconds by streaming it in HD with just an 8Mbps connection. And even if you wanted to download a whole box set, those who provide such services throttle the maximum speed at which you can do so.

"Claiming you can watch 4K ultra-high-definition content (which only requires 25Mbps) is equally misleading. 1000Mbps broadband could do this twenty times over, so only offer maximum utility if your household had twenty 4K UHD TVs, along with 20 household members all concurrently watching different 4K video streams.

The government should be spending this money where it matters most, along with putting in place firm restrictions as to exactly where this new network provision can be applied – prioritising those who need it most.

Notes to editors

If using our research and/or commentary we would deeply appreciate a link either to this page or to https://www.cable.co.uk


What is Cable?

Cable is a broadband, TV and phone comparator, unique news source and consumer champion.

Dan Howdle has been plugged into the attitudes of UK broadband, TV and mobile customers for over two decades, running research fieldwork both nationally and internationally on behalf of the biggest players in the industry. Dan is now consumer telecoms analyst at Cable, as well as more formally operating in the role of its Director of Communications and Content.

An experienced broadcaster, commentator and writer, Dan has appeared on BBC TV and radio, ITV, Sky and in the national papers. Dan has advised Ofcom on issues surrounding service quality, administered Cable’s Broadband Service Quality Awards and sat on the panel of judges for the Internet Service Providers Association annual awards.

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